Victory: Wilderness Values Protected on the Pahsimeroi River Watershed

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Western Watersheds Project wins a great legal victory for wilderness and endangered fish.


On July 30th, 2010 Idaho Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued an Order in Western Watersheds Project's favor overturning a Bureau of Land Management decision to build fencing within the Burnt Creek Wilderness Study Area (WSA) on the Burnt Creek Allotment in central Idaho's Pahsimeroi River Watershed.

Western Watersheds Project received excellent legal representation in this litigation from Kristin Ruether of Advocates for the West's Boise office.

This victory protects wilderness values from the assaults of livestock and livestock management developments.

View Pashimeroi River Watershed in a larger map

The Burnt Creek Allotment is located within the Pahsimeroi River Watershed, entirely within the Burnt Creek WSA. In his decision, Judge Winmill describes the Burnt Creek WSA using BLM's own words:

The 8,300 acre portion of the Burnt Creek WSA recommended for wilderness designation offers, in the BLM’s opinion, “outstanding wilderness quality, lack of conflicts with other resource uses, ease of management, and their value as an extension to the adjacent U.S. Forest Service [Borah Peak] Unit.” Moreover, it “offer[s] outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive, unconfined recreation . . ., [and] is isolated from human influences [...] the primitive nature adds a spectacular example of sagebrush- and grass-covered hills with pockets of timber giving way to awesome rugged mountains rising into the adjacent Area".

Flowing through the allotment is Burnt Creek, spawning habitat for bull trout and critical habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead, all of which are listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

This successful litigation compliments Western Watersheds Project's ongoing litigation in the Pahsimeroi River Watershed against the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service for their collective failure to protect endangered fish including Chinook salmon, Steelhead, and Bull trout.

Read the Decision

Jon Marvel
Executive Director